Entertainment & Arts

BBC Proms set to launch with 'calm' world premiere

BBC Proms promo pic
Image caption Trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth, sitar player Nishat Khan, Proms presenter Katie Derham and singer and broadcaster Cerys Matthews flanked by Daleks at the launch of the BBC Proms 2013

A new work by acclaimed British composer Julian Anderson will launch the two-month BBC Proms season later.

The music festival - the world's largest - begins on Friday evening and ends with the world-famous Last Night of the proms on 7 September.

Anderson describes Harmony, a piece for chorus and orchestra, as "a short piece about eternity".

The world premiere of his work is accompanied by sea-inspired works by Britten and Vaughan Williams.

"It's very exciting - I've always loved the Proms," Anderson told the BBC.

"When you're writing a piece to open a concert series, it seems to me there are two options: one is to write a piece that's very loud and rather like a fanfare, and the other is to write a quiet and more meditative piece.

"I've chosen the second option which is perhaps the less obvious of the two."

He added: "One of the things the Proms audience is famous for, is their ability to listen to sometimes very long works of classical music - and this piece celebrates their ability to do that because it is calm and focused."

Anderson's work, however, is the shortest of the opening Prom night. At around four minutes long, it draws on material from the composer's first opera, Thebans, which will premiere at the ENO in May 2014.

Image caption Marin Alsop will make history as the first female conductor for the Last Night of the Proms

Sakari Oramo will conduct the First Night of the Proms, marking the beginning of his tenure as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Other leading conductors include Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Mark Elder, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Valery Gergiev and Sir Antonio Pappano.

A special concert dedicated to Sir Colin Davis, who died in April aged 85, will be held on 20 August - when he was due to lead the London Symphony Orchestra with tenor Ian Bostridge.

This years Proms features 75 concerts at London's Royal Albert Hall, 13 in the Cadogan Hall and four Proms in the Park events around the UK.

Highlights include a celebration of the 200th year of Wagner's birth with a complete performance of his Ring cycle conducted by Daniel Barenboim.

The Doctor Who Proms return this weekend, as part of the TV show's 50th anniversary celebrations.

Among the Proms firsts are an Urban Classic featuring Fazer, Laura Mvula and Maverick Sabre and a 6 Music Prom with Cerys Matthews, Laura Marling and punk heroes The Stranglers.

Marin Alsop makes Proms history by becoming the first woman to conduct the Last Night of the Proms. She will be joined by mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and British violinist Nigel Kennedy, who will also direct a performance of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons during the festival.

Speaking about his opening work, Anderson said he had chosen to set it to a brief text by 19th Century nature writer Richard Jefferies about time and eternity.

"It's a text I've loved for many years because when you go to a concert, you forget the everyday time of the world outside and you enter the time of the music," he said.

Every Prom is broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. The full list of events can be found at the BBC Proms website.

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